A GUIDE TO THE ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR ETC (SCOTLAND) ACT 2004
INTERPRETATION OF ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
Section 143 of the Antisocial Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004 sets out the interpretation of antisocial behaviour for the purposes of the Act (except Parts 7 and 8).
The legislation provides that a person engages in antisocial behaviour if they:
- act in a manner that causes or is likely to cause alarm or distress; or
- pursue a course of conduct that causes or is likely to cause alarm or distress to at least one person not of the same household as them.
In this definition "conduct" would include speech; and a course of conduct must involve conduct on at least two occasions.
The expression "likely to cause" has the effect that someone other than a victim of the antisocial behaviour can give evidence about whether behaviour is antisocial or not. This is intended specifically to enable the use of professionals as witnesses where those targeted by the behaviour feel unable to come forward, for example, for fear of reprisals or intimidation.
It is the effect or likely effect of the behaviour on other people that determines whether the behaviour is antisocial. The authority applying for the order does not have to prove intention on the part of the defendant to cause alarm or distress.
While an authority does not have to prove intention, it would not be appropriate to use the powers in the Act where an individual cannot understand the consequences of their actions. Where an individual has a disability or a medical or developmental condition, or it is suspected they may have such a condition, advice should be sought from medical experts on support which is available.